It was back to work on the gridiron for the hometown Hope Bobcats to officially begin fall football practice this week. Throughout the summer the Bobcats kept themselves busy in numerous workouts participating in team camps hosted at Nashville, SAU-Magnolia, Hot Springs and Glen Rose.

It was back to work on the gridiron for the hometown Hope Bobcats to officially begin fall football practice this week. Throughout the summer the Bobcats kept themselves busy in numerous workouts participating in team camps hosted at Nashville, SAU-Magnolia, Hot Springs and Glen Rose. The Cats also competed in two 7 on 7 football tournaments hosted in Benton and Camden-Fairview.

According to Hope Bobcat football head coach Jay Turley, the Cats grasp the experience of tough competition with some of their new faces to build their team chemistry during their summer workouts and look to make a difference this up coming season.

"I thought we really had a good summer with our participation. We went in with a lack of experience, but really did good job with our conditioning in practice and work ethic," Coach Turley said.

The Cats will look a little different than have in the previous seasons according to Coach Turley. With three-year starting quarterback Austin Stubber graduated and SAU signee, the Cats have a trio of QB's currently working at the position of Nate Carter, Keith Brown and Hunter Hellums.

Turley said, the trio has done a great job battling out at the position. They've utilize their talents at quarterback during team camps this summer and looked to be used throughout the season for the Bobcats.

As the Cats will look to run the ball more this season, Turley has been really impressed with returning running back Jay Conway this summer and the production he's provided against other schools during camp.

"We've probably got one of the best running backs we ever had in Conway. He's really playing well by being explosive and creative," Coach Turley said.

With the offense showing some good signs of play this summer despite their inexperience, the Bobcats defense has been one of the biggest tools for Hope throughout the previous seasons.

Coach Turley thought the "Bobcat D" has really played well and expects them to be a major factor for the team this season.

In their final team camp of the summer at Glen Rose High School, the Cats came out a little slow, but finished strong and really progressed to make this their best workout camp of the offseason.

"We started out really slow by trying kids a different positions. In the second half of camp, the kids woke up and played really well. It was probably the best camp we've played this summer," Turley said.

Before kicking off into their summer workout schedule, Turley was very pleased by the production from his Cats during spring football workouts. According to Turley, the numbers were up from last season as there were around 50 Cats to participate.

 

Spring practice is used for the upcoming sophomore class players to grasp the new system of performing on the varsity level and Turley knew it would start out slow early. As practices progressed, the underclassman worked their way into the system offensively and defensively where production was productive.

 

The Cats were able to learn and grasp positions well, which they concluded spring practice with positive performances in a scrimmage on the final day. Turley was well satisfied overall how the Cats competed and executed formations and help them be prepared to compete hard and productively for summer camps into fall practice.

"We started really slow with some new faces and just looked inexperienced. The kids had great attitudes for a desire to win. We ended with a high note," Turley said.

As the Cats had more likely their toughest and most disappointing season last year, they're ready to rewrite a new chapter for 2017 and Turley is excited and motivated to get things rolling due to having a coachable group of young men to work with.

"I feel good and up beat about next season. I'm looking forward to this summer. The kids have got to get stronger in the weight room. We got a long way to go, but everybody is willing to work hard to get that bad taste and feeling from last season. The kids are ready to step up with better attitudes and just a more coachable group," Coach Turley said.

Knowing this year will be challenging for the Cats, they're highly motivated to make some noise on the gridiron to be a threat despite picked to finish eighth in the 5A South Conference voted by league coaches for preseason predictions.

The Cats will turn their attention for their first taste of 2017 football action in a scrimmage against Arkansas High Razorbacks Aug. 22 in Texarkana. Then, the big showdown at the Hill in Nashville to open the season against longtime arch rivals' Nashville Scrappers on Sept. 1.